Some time ago, you graduated – belated congratulations!
Shortly after your graduation, possibly post travelling, you took your first major step on the career ladder and secured a full-time permanent role – more belated congratulations! It could have been a Graduate Scheme, or ‘just a job’ initially, but either way it was destined to set you on the path to professional glory.
Unfortunately, and for whatever reasons, that first step isn’t working out the way you hoped, and thus you’re currently exploring your options. Welcome to the “Second Jobber” world!
We’ve all done it…made a duff career move, so don’t worry too much about it (he says convincingly!) – you’re in good company! In fact, you could argue that making a bad move at this point in your career is the best place to do so. I appreciate that may be scant consolation for that awful feeling in your stomach every morning knowing you’re off to work in a job or company (or both!) that you don’t want to be in, but it will get better!
The question is…now what?
The first thing to avoid is “The Kneejerk”…panicking and thus jumping into the first thing that comes along at this juncture. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially if things got so bad in the first job that you called it a day, resigned and left without anything to fall back on!
A little time and effort at this point will actually get you back on track quicker than a kneejerk reaction – and let’s face it, you don’t want to make a second career mistake…the market for third/fourth/fifth jobbers isn’t as strong!
The second thing to avoid is making the same mistake you probably made as last time – choosing a career / job based on “what’s out there” rather than some deep understanding of what the best options are for you personally.
Most grads will look for what companies are recruiting, read their adverts, think “that sounds great” and send in an application. Well guess what – job ads are designed to get you to apply, and not all are factually works of accuracy! Taking that approach initially is probably why you’re still reading this!
So here’s my take on the best approach to take – the “Who Am I?” exercise. First things first…
1. Write down what gets you out of bed in a morning (and “an iPhone” doesn’t count!)
List all the things that motivate you, things that you enjoy, things that genuinely will see you spring out of bed in those winter months when it’s cold and dark and you definitely would prefer to stay put that get into work!
It could be anything, and there are no ‘right and wrong’ answers – just so long as it’s representative of you.
Making a difference to the community, working outdoors, selling, dealing with people, money…the list is genuinely endless.
So over to you to put a comprehensive list together. Once you’ve done that…
2. Take advice on the list
Show the list to friends. See if they’d add anything. See if they question anything.
Show it to family – see whether they’d add or remove anything. I’d show it to my Grandma – at 90 years old she’s likely to give me a straight and honest answer rather than what I want to hear (she told me I needed to lose weight last week!).
That should give you a pretty comprehensive list. Then…
3. Rank the list
Simple – work out what’s most important, and what’s least important. For example, if working in Yorkshire is important, and earning money is important, work out which is most important i.e. whether you’d prefer a job in Yorkshire on £20k or a job in London on £25k.
Okay, so not that simple! But the time and effort you invest here will go a long way to dictating the success of this whole exercise.
Once you’ve done that…
4. Repeat 2 – take advice on the list
Show the ranking to friends and family and get their feedback.
And see what Grandma says.
At this point you should have a comprehensive idea of your motivations, their importance, what you want from a career – essentially allowing you to answer the question “who am I?”
The next piece of the puzzle…
5. Map this to sectors, industries and professions (but not specific organisations at this stage)
You may need some inside help with this – careers advisors, family members, friends – people who know with good authority the ins and outs of different options. You can make some pretty safe assumptions as well – if you’ve put “making a difference” high on the agenda, working in say healthcare or the third sector would certainly fit the bill!
Now you’ve identified some ideal industries, sectors and professions…
6. Identify target employers
Research and identify employers in the industries/sectors/professions you identify. For example, if you’ve highlighted the finance profession as a good match, and specifically accounting, get onto google and find the top 50 firms in the industry. Have a look at their websites, independent reviews, any info you can get your hands on. You may cross some off, but by the end of this part of the process, you’ll essentially have a list of jobs you want to do in firms you want to work for in industries you want to work in – hugely useful when deciding what to do for the next 50 years!
Speaking of the next 50 years, it’s important to bear that in mind. It may seem like a lot of time and effort just to find a job – but it’s more than that. It’s investing in your future – just like you invested time to gain a degree. So spend 3 days doing this exercise…hell, spend 3 weeks doing it if it means getting it right. 3 weeks is 0.1% 50 years – so that’s a 0.1% investment of time and effort for a 99.9% return a fantastically enjoyable and successful career.
And the last part…
7. Apply to each company.
It doesn’t matter if they don’t have a graduate scheme or they’re not recruiting. You’ve identified it as an ideal employer, so apply. If they say no, it’s likely it will only be a no for now. And the people to whom you’re applying are most likely building talent pools – future hires that they can access easily further down the line.
And here endeth the sermon! I hope it’s been a useful read, and if you don’t mind the gratuitous plug…if having done the above exercise you feel that the recruitment industry is well suited to you, and you’re interested in working for a firm that invest heavily in training, please see step 7 and send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org